Location: The town of Lindsayville, 500 miles from Lavernia
Year: 2913 AD
Hi, I'm Ellie Bishop. I'm just an average girl of Paxum, mixed race: half black, half Greek. Well, okay, not really average as such. You see, I'm not a Paxite. Mom and Dad and I moved here from Earth when I was 5, so I'm a Terran. It's really hard making friends or finding dates on Paxum, because though I'm the same age as everyone else in my senior class at high school (18), I'm already fully grown, while everyone else looks like preteens. So yeah, life has been difficult here. I do have friends, but it's kinda weird since I'm much more physically mature than they are.
It got even harder when my dad died four years ago. I miss him a lot. Luckily, he worked at the same place Mom does, and life is a lot easier, finance-wise, on Paxum than on Earth. But I'm still not completely over his death, especially since we moved here because the company he works for wanted him specifically. They wanted Mom, too, but Dad was even better at his job than Mom is.
Also, it's been ... interesting ... trying to get used to this world where gender is such a fluid thing among kids, and where adult/child romantic relationships are cool with most people. But I was so young when we moved here, I adapted to all that stuff. It's the physical differences that are the hardest to adapt to. I mean, by lucky coincidence I'm panchrono, AKA being attracted to people of all ages, even preteens, which helps on the dating thing, at least. But it would still be nice to have some Terran friends my own age.
Mom was hit by Dad's death even harder than me, and for three and a half years she didn't date at all. But then she met someone, someone she was keeping a bit of a secret for some reason. I mean, I knew she was going out and dating someone, she made no secret of that. And I knew the other person was a woman (my mom is bisexual), but beyond that I didn't know much. Mom never brought her over, never showed me a picture, never let me talk to the woman on the phone, and never took her Omnus calls around me.
I remember the day Mom first decided to let me meet her girlfriend of six months. I was back from school, watching the three-vee to unwind, my shoes and socks scattered around the room, my bare feet draped over one arm of the sofa, flipping channels looking for something watchable, when she came in from her bedroom. It was her day off, so I wasn't surprised by that. What did surprise me, though, was that she was wringing her hands and looking very nervous. I noticed, and flipped off the three-vee with the remote, sitting up.
"What's wrong, Mom?"
She sat down on the sofa next to me, resolutely putting her hands on her legs. "Nothing wrong, honey. Just ... I've decided to let you meet Zoe at last. But I have some things to tell you about her first, so you'll be prepared."
"Like what? Is she horribly disfigured?"
Mom laughed. "Oh, nothing like that, honey."
"Okay, I'm listening."
"Well ... for starters, she's not Terran."
"Seeing as there's only two other Terrans in town, and they're married to each other, I'd be surprised if she was Terran."
"Good. But there's more. She's ... she's not a Paxite, either. She's a Lucite."
"Oh, the sex-shifters? I think there's a Lucite girl in school. I've seen her in the halls. So you're dating her mom?"
"Um ... is that girl of Indian heritage, with black hair and almost-black eyes?"
I frowned a little in thought. "Yeah, I think so."
"Does she usually wear a sunflower hair-clip and denim overalls with short pants legs?"
"Uh ... I think the few times I've seen her, that's what she was wearing."
"Then no, I'm not dating her mother."
"But-" I started, but stopped myself short. There weren't any other Lucites in town. I didn't know the girl I'd been talking about well, but I was sure one of her parents presented as male. "I don't-"
"I'm not dating her mother. I'm dating her. The girl I described is Zoe."
My insides froze. I stared, open-mouthed, at Mom. I couldn't believe my ears. I mean, I'd lived here long enough I knew some paedos and panchronos, and most of them were great people, but I'd never seen any indication that my own mother was one of them, in 18 years of living with her. This ... this was a bombshell.
"I ... what? Hold on, I just ... I just need to think," I said, my head in my hands.
"Your, um ... your father never approved of such things, so he never knew. I guess I got so used to keeping it a secret that, well ... I never thought to tell you. I think a part of me still worries you'll ... you'll think me some kind of sicko."
I looked up at her. "Mom, I love you. I'll always love you. I don't think you're sick. I've lived here so long I don't even remember Earth, much. It's just ... I never had any idea."
This seemed to cheer her up, which I was glad for, but there was a part of me that wasn't happy. A part of me was angry, for no reason I could identify. Angry, and jealous. But why? I was panchrono myself, why should I-
"Mom, I ... I just realized I never told you, I'm panchrono. Are you panchrono, or just paedo? I know on places like Earth, closeted paedos will date and even marry adults to fit in. Anyway, I just wanted you to know I'm panchrono, so I don't think you're sick."
She smiled even more. "No, honey, I'm not an exclusive paedo; I'm panchrono, just like you. I guess it must run in the family."
We had a good laugh about that for a few minutes before she spoke again. "Listen, honey, how would you feel about me inviting Zoe over for dinner tomorrow so you two can meet each other, finally?"
I forced a smile. "Sure Mom, that sounds great."
"Good, I'll have her come over at 6pm, then, okay?"
"Cool," I said, with feigned enthusiasm.
With that settled, we chatted amicably for a while about this and that, but there was still a mysterious battle going on inside me. But I couldn't think about it yet. I set that aside til later, and so we had dinner and watched three-vee together until I decided to turn in, having very expertly hidden my feelings from Mom, since I needed to analyze them.
In my room, I lay down on the bed and finally got around to thinking through my feelings. Why was I jealous and angry? Was I jealous of Mom? I pondered that, but it didn't feel like that was it. Was the anger at being panchrono myself and not knowing Mom and I had that in common? I hadn't realized that part of my orientation until after Dad died, and he didn't like to talk about that kind of thing, so I didn't really have any issues there. Or did I? Well, maybe that was part of it. But what of the jealousy? If I wasn't jealous of Mom, why was I jealous?
Then it hit me. I wasn't jealous of Mom, I was jealous of this Zoe girl. I hadn't thought about it, but now I did, I got up and looked through some of my writings from the last few years. Looking through it, I saw finally a pattern I had completely missed that whole time. My writings were littered with poems, stories, and fantasies about an older woman I dubbed Katie, and our romantic and sexual relationship with each other. It wasn't until I read it over with the new realization in my mind that I noticed something in all these stories I'd never noticed before. Katie, with her long, curly brown hair, brown eyes, olive skin, strong chin, and athletic calves, looked exactly like my mother, who is of Greek heritage. Her personality was practically a perfect clone of Mom's, too. And what was more, Katie was a widow.
I fell back on the bed, trying to decide if I wanted to cry or laugh, and too stunned to do either. It took my mom dating a girl four years younger than me to finally figure out that I was in love with my own mother. And I might have realized my desire earlier if I'd known sooner that Mom was panchrono.
Yes, it wasn't the fact I was in love with my mother that bothered me, so much as the shitty way I figured it out; after all, incest is not taboo on Paxum. No, it was because I had to figure it out because the woman I loved was involved with someone else. Someone younger than me. And they'd been dating for six months already.
It was irrational, I know; jealousy isn't rational to begin with, and I only just now figured out I'd been fantasizing about my mother for years. It wasn't Zoe's fault! It wasn't even Mom's fault, given how she'd grown up and the man she'd married. I didn't blame her. I didn't want to be angry with Zoe, either, a girl I hadn't even properly met yet. But that didn't change the fact that I was angry, and very jealous. Not to mention frustrated, since I couldn't do anything about it. I'd barely even recognized my feelings, so I could scarcely go barging in to Mom's room and profess my undying love for her. I doubted it would do any good even if I did. What's more, I didn't want to ruin her happiness nor the presumed happiness of the Zoe girl. Mom had been sad for so long after Dad's death, I was glad that she was happy at last.
Not surprisingly, I cried myself to sleep, the tears muffled by my pillow.
I woke up the next day dreading the coming school day. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry all day. But instead, I got up, stood in front of the mirror, and forced myself to look normal. I think I mostly succeeded, but I may have looked a little wooden.
It was a real fight to have normal conversation at the breakfast table. I didn't want Mom to think that I'd lied to make her feel better, because I wasn't upset about what she would assume I was upset about. I think my drama club experience was paying off, because Mom didn't seem to sense anything was wrong.
.... There is more of this story ...